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Food for Thought

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The holidays are over and the New Year is bringing a new push that could change how you decide where to go out for a meal. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has our special assignment report Food for Thought.

WSVN -- Pictures sent to 7News this past year are real stomach turners. A fly on a stack of pancakes, a bug in french fries and a roach dead on top of a pile of pasta.

Customers say they were all served up at South Florida restaurants.

Maria Koontz: "It was absolutely disgusting to find a dead roach inside your pasta."

The restaurant where Maria Koontz ordered takeout had been temporarily closed by the state just days earlier because of a roach infestation, but it was allowed to reopen in time for Maria's order.

Maria Koontz: "I never heard of it. I was never informed that the restaurant was shut down."

Carmel Cafiero: "The dirty inspection details are out there but you have to know where to search and that's the state's website. You can find out what restaurants passed inspections and those that did not. And why, problem is, how many people search the internet before going out to eat."

State Senator Eleanor Sobel is working on a bill that would require restaurants to post letter grades similar to a school report card, like A, B and C, where customers could easily see them.

She says it would help diners decide where to eat and be an incentive for businesses.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel": "I think it's competition within the industry to want to get an A because you are fighting for those customers and you want to have a clean facility.

Carmel Cafiero: "So it's a win-win."

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel: "It's a win-win, yes."

It's a proposal that may be foreign to Florida but is hardly new.

Major cities like New York and Los Angeles already use a letter grading system but the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation doesn't think a change in the system is necessary.

DBPR Tajiana Ancora-Brown: "What we require of food managers and the individuals who work in a restaurant already pushes them to ensure that they have the highest of food safety and sanitation standards all the time."

Florida's restaurant trade group is against letter grades saying it "Oversimplifies the complexities" of inspections and "Creates a false sense of security" for consumers.

Sobel says she is ready for the fight.

State Sen. Eleanor Sobel: "I believe, overwhelmingly, the people of the state of Florida would like this rating system."

For now, the possibility of letter grades gracing restaurant windows remains food for thought. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation

Search restaurant inspections:

https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=&brd=H

Emergency restaurant closures:

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/hr/inspections/EmergencyClosures.html

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